It’s known as the “Honeymoon Phase” in most circles – that phase that occurs right when you get into a brand new relationship and the butterflies just won’t quit fluttering every time you see your new partner. Heck, they won’t stop fluttering every time you even think about your partner or hear their name. It’s that brief release of endorphins that rush through your body when you're involved in something exciting and new. It’s the first sign that you’re falling hard for another person. Most doctors will tact this on to being physically drawn to another person.
“Falling in love – or rather falling in lust – activates those pleasure centers housed in [the basal ganglia] which causes an immediate physiological response,” says psychiatrist and neuroscientist Dr. Daniel Amen, who has authored many books on this very subject. “The heart beats fast, your hands will get cold and sweaty and you’re super-focused on that person. Your stomach will do somersaults.”
We all tend to love that phase of the relationship because we’re in the zone with our partner. But what most people fear is that loss of the butterflies. When everything slows down and you’ve just become comfortable together. There are normal feelings that come along with this phase, and then there some, rather, worrisome feelings that you should watch out for.
Probably almost every love song we hear was most likely written during the honeymoon phase of a relationship when the butterflies were extra big, but not a lot of people will tell you that the best part of the relationship tends to start AFTER those suckers fly away. Oh sure, some stick around and pop up whenever your partner is away for a long period of time, but usually the feeling replacing the rush of endorphins is one of normalcy. Sure, the word sounds boring, but it’s not when you’re in a solid relationship. A sense of normalcy is often comforting in a healthy partnership because it’s almost become a routine of sorts. This often means a sense of security comes attached to the normalcy, which can be satisfying because that’s what brings on confidence (confidence that your partner won’t stray, big things like that).
Normalcy and routine are often comforting if you’re able to add little surprises in the mix every once in awhile to keep the fire going.
Even having a date night every week scheduled may be routine, but anything can be a go on that specific night to make sure the spark is still there. It’s all a sign of a very healthy relationship, so no need to worry.
Sure, those of us who aren’t in a comfy relationship will often get excited about getting all dolled up to meet up with our new partner. We put aside hours in our day to get ready before going out on a date or when we simply plan on running into them somewhere. Thing is, all this takes up SOOOOO much time.
Of course, in the beginning, we enjoy the heck out of the getting ready factor, and they don’t mind it either thanks to the end result. But the more comfortable you become in a relationship, the more you don’t really seem to care about all that glamming up stuff. You no longer are spending hours in the bathroom making sure your smoky-eye is perfected lined or that not a single hair appears to be out of place. Frankly, you’re just happy spending date-night on the couch with your partner, binge-watching your favorite show. Plus, that whole pesky shaving routine you stressed over at the beginning of your relationship? Poof, gone (though, maintenance every once in a while to keep things healthy is probably wise, so don’t cut that off completely). Because we all know how annoyed we become when we let our leg hair grow out too much.
As we all have heard before at some point in our lives: “The truth hurts.” And this goes double for when you’re in a comfortable relationship. The thing is, it doesn’t always hurt when it’s coming from someone you love, especially when it’s someone you truly and completely trust.
“When you know you can totally trust your mate, it removes a large potential for worry,” Dr. Barton Goldsmith explained in Psychology Today.
“It also builds your internal security so that you not only feel good about your partner, but you also feel better about life. Having an honest relationship creates a kind of buffer between you and the difficulties of the world. Having a mate you can trust and rely on also makes it easier to take those risks that help us grow.”
Sometimes we feel the need to throw in a little white lie here or there in our relationship, especially when it comes to sparing the feelings of our partners. But, in the long run, that really does more harm than good. Honesty is always the best policy in any relationship’s case, and if you find you’d rather be honest with your partner rather than have to live with a lie because you genuinely love them, that’s normal in a healthy relationship.
For women, emotions often run extremely high depending on our moods and we often tend to be crucified for it in the workplace and/or in life in general. Everyone always claimed that a woman couldn’t really be president because of the common woman’s emotional state. But if these days are telling us anything in a political sense, it’s that men are just as emotional as women (even more so if they have a fragile ego) these days. At the beginning of a relationship, most people tend to keep their emotions at bay in order not to seem too overdramatic or, heaven forbid, fragile. Thing is, we’re not being honest to ourselves or to our new partner in that case. But the more comfortable we start to get, the more we let our emotional side take the reigns.
This can be good if you’re not letting your emotions control EVERY part of your relationship because it will tend to cause anxiety, which can weigh on your relationship and cause your decision-making skills to appear “clouded.” While showing emotions in a comfortable relationship is normal, it’s best to not let them get too out of hand and look for the warning signs if you feel they might be getting to that point.
We all tend to think that fighting or arguing is a sign of a doomed relationship (when we’re being overdramatic, of course) when, in fact, it’s the sign of a healthy one… as long as the arguments aren’t too large and they’re not occurring around five times a day, every day. “Fighting means you care about the relationship,” Dr. Ramani Durvasula explains.
“When fighting goes away completely, sometimes one or both people have checked out.”
Some people assume that since they fight more than their other couple friends that there is something wrong with the relationship or with themselves. That’s really never the case, especially if you have reached that comfortable portion of your relationship. Fighting is perfectly normal. Manhattan psychologist Joseph Cilona agrees. “There is no one correct formula when it comes to frequency of conflict, and there is no one correct way to navigate conflict that’s right for all couples.”
In these fights, you have to be clear about what you’re feeling at the time and express it to your partner without bringing up trigger words that will escalate the argument further. That’s using any negative words or put-downs. Because if you’re constantly doing that, it’s just plain rude and not a very good sign.
As most people will tell you, there’s a difference between feeling comfortable in a relationship and actually being happy in one. And that’s often how expressed based on how you feel during the most “comfortable” parts of your relationship, meaning – how comfortable you are with each other without feeling grossed out and, instead, finding it hilarious while feeling secure at the same time. We’re talking about, well, being comfortable enough in front of your significant other to pass gas without feeling immediately ashamed, to walk around in sweats and a un-ironed shirt with them, to not be afraid to take care of each other’s back-acne without feeling too grossed out. We’re talking about THAT sort of comfort level.
Sure, it seems gross talking about it if you’re still in that Honeymoon phase. But once the butterflies start fluttering off, and you’re left with the routine part, you’ll have to witness the dirty side of the relationship (and not the good kind of dirty – the “I’ve helped you through the night when you had food poisoning from bad take-out food” type of dirty). If you both love each other, you’ll find the hilariousness in the comfort situations and be okay with it all.
How come no one ever explains to us that when we’re in a regular relationship, we tend to be tired quite a bit? Physically sharing your life with another person can be rather exhausting at first, and then later on when you’ve hit the comfy part of the relationship, it can be quite exhausting too, but only in a way that’s physical. Are you tired from staying up all night to binge watch your favorite show at the end of the week? Perfectly normal. Though what you need to watch out for is being emotionally exhausted, because that’s a danger sign. It could mean that you feel your partner is draining you emotionally (basically sucking the life out of you).
What we’re talking about here is the physical type of exhaustion, which only should pop up every once in awhile.
Maybe you’re just trying to get used to sleeping in the same bed as someone who snores? Or has to get just a little bit more work done before they turn in. When you’re comfortable in a relationship, you start doing your normal bedtime routine with someone else, and yes, that means keeping them awake if you tend to read before you go to bed.
Ah yes, being annoyed: this is one of the most common things to occur in a healthy and comfortable relationship. The things you thought were cute during the honeymoon phase of the relationship? Well, not so much now that we spending more time on a normal basis with them. All the little annoyances that pop up after the butterflies have taken off is perfectly normal and healthy. You’ll come to find out that you don’t like your partner leaving all their little hairs around the bathroom after they shave, or the fact that they never think to make some more coffee after they’ve finished the last cup before you’ve even woken up on the weekend (hint: start to get up earlier, in that case, to be them to the punch)? These are all little annoyances that come whenever hark! You’re in a long-term relationship.
Hopefully, if the other person is capable of listening and growing (and you are too) they will work on rectifying those little annoyances in order to improve. But, like we said, relationships are a two-way street and you both have to be capable of change if you want the relationship to last for the long haul.
When a relationship first starts out, the infatuation with your partner tends to be a strong one, and therefore they’re put up high on a pedestal. Hopefully though, if your relationship lasts, it’s because your partner has cushioned the bottom of the pedestal enough and is waiting there with open arms so that when that image of perfection is eventually shattered, you have a soft spot to land in their arms. If your partner doesn’t bail (or what to bail) at the first sign of you not being perfect, you know your relationship is healthy enough to withstand anything and you tend to make a stronger bond when it occurs.
At the beginning of a relationship, sometimes the connection you have with your partner tends to be superficial.
The way you know that your connection has grown beyond that is small things (based on Bustle): When you make an effort to spend time alone together, when you go through something emotionally difficult together (illness, a family passing, stuff like that), when you both make an effort to be involved in their family events, and traveling together without losing your cool every six minutes. All these things can help create a stronger bond that comes with times and effort.
Once the butterflies have flown away to greater, greener pastures, and you’re still very much in love with your partner, you’ve reached the point of no return: if both of you feel this way even after the honeymoon phase, chances are you’ll be together for a long while because the love is genuine and not just lust related. Because as “your love grows, your brain changes.”
“The butterflies feeling is partially your body saying I’m stressed but I’m motivated to do something or see this person again,” Dr. Nicole Prause, a psychophysiologist explains. “It’s actually the same when you want to punch somebody in the face; the body interprets it in different ways.”
When you’re in a healthy and committed relationship, your brain tends to grow with that love, and the bond created only gets stronger with time. “True love is a well-being experience that does not include nervousness or excitement,” neuroscientist and behavioralist Dr. Nicole Gravagna says. “True love does not resemble addiction in the body.” When true love hits, it’s all you and the work you’re able to put into the relationship in order for it to be healthy and balanced. Like the doctors have said, sure, it’s not as exciting as the infatuation phase, but it’s generally happier and “certainly a lot less stressful.
Because the beginning of a relationship is mostly superficial and tends to be physically related, it can be a huge warning sign if your partner doesn’t really like the fact that the butterflies have taken off.
This means they were only sticking around for the “fun” part of the relationship and when that starts to wear off, their attention starts to waver.
It appears that they were addicted to the chemicals their body was releasing when they first started to fall, and as the chemicals begin to change, they start feeling panic. These are usually the type of people who are addicted to the rush they get when first falling in love, but they’re the ones that fall in and out of love so many times in their lives, and this is never EVER a good thing and extremely worrisome when you figure out your in a relationship with this type of person.
Since love is like feeling intoxicated, they’re all for it in the first few months of the Honeymoon phase, but then they start to look for excuses to bail later down the line. If this is ever the case, the red flags were always visible from the very start of the relationship, you just need to open your eyes to see them and NEVER ignore them.
The key to having a healthy relationship is always giving your partner room to breathe. You both need breathing room in order to keep the love alive and well. “Space issues plague just about every couple at one time or another,” Jessica DuLong explained in a Psychology Today article. “For many, it’s an ongoing source of contention. The most common sticking points are how much time to spend together, and how much physical affection feels right to each partner. But regardless of the details of the dispute, the same question is at the core of most of these conflicts: Where does the “us” end and the “I” begin? Experts agree that couples need to find a balance between togetherness and individuality.”
Though sometimes, when a partner is constantly stressing that their SO is “suffocating” them and not doing anything about it (just complaining all the time) is a clear-cut warning sign that your relationship is about ready to come to an end, but – we almost guarantee it – YOU’LL be the one that has to break off the relationship because people who complain yet don’t change are the ones that are too afraid to pull the plug themselves. And that’s bound to be extremely hard to do, but in the end, it has to be done so you’re not wasting your time.
As most love articles will tell you, there’s a big difference between feeling bored in a relationship and feeling comfortable. They will also tell you that a little boredom in a relationship is completely healthy, but when it comes in giant garbage bags filled with it, it’s not. “Boredom comes with the desire for something new” usually and occurs when a person feels stuck, especially if they’re bored all the time, even when a couple is out doing something that they both once found enjoyable.
"When you’re bored, you’ll probably find yourself desperate for a solution," Elite Daily explains. “After boredom usually means you are lacking options and excitement, so you’ll naturally want to remedy that."
"In a relationship, the 'solution' could either be trying to spice things up with your partner or it could mean ending it and finding someone new."
"You won’t know unless you explore the emotion."
If you feel that you’ve found a solution that appears to just be a band-aid because your partner falls back into that boredom rut, it’s a big worrisome warning sign that you should probably move on. A band-aid won’t be able to save your relationship and will only serve as a momentary patch.
Yes, like we said before, at the beginning of a relationship, most people tend to think that their partner is nothing but perfect and will put them high up on that pedestal. But, the higher up you are, the harder you hit the ground when you fall. The key is having a partner who is truly in love with you, and not the image they created in their mind of you, there to catch you when you fall. When a person starts feeling this way, it’s like the bubble they were living in during the butterflies phase has popped and they’re realizing that they really DON’T like your taste in movies and TV shows, your messy habits, or even the way you do your morning routine. They find themselves annoyed by every little thing and don’t want to put up with it.
These types of people tend to long for the false image they created in their heads – the Greek mythology they wrote that revolved around you. When they’re “shocked” to find out that person actually doesn’t exist after the first phase of the relationship is through, they’ll bail. And when they start reminiscing about how your “used” to be during the beginning of the relationship (when morning breath didn’t exist and you used to sleep in makeup with a perfect hairdo) it’s time to run for the hills.
The old saying “forgive and forget” is true, especially when it comes to couples who want to be in a long-term relationship. But yet, there are couples who hold onto grudges longer, which can buckle a relationship, especially if the honeymoon phase is over.
“To begin with, grudges come with an identity,” Nancy Colier of Psychology Today explains. “With our grudge intact, we know who we are – a person who was 'wronged.' As much as we don’t like it, there also exists a kind of rightness and strength in this identity. We have something that defines us – our anger and victimhood – which gives us a sense of solidness and purpose. We have definition and a grievance that carries weight."
"To let go of our grudge, we have to be willing to let go of our identity as the “wronged” one, and whatever strength, solidity, or possible sympathy and understanding we receive through that “wronged” identity.”
In a relationship, a partner has to be willing to let go of grudges in order to keep the relationship afloat, and if they can’t or unable to, it’s a definite warning sign and can be worrisome later down the line. It’s can also steam from that they have a desire to always be right, and that never works out in a relationship.